Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tent in Living Room, also known as Why I have NOT finished my Second Vogue Dress!

I want to finish before the New Year!!   But, you can see I've been up to no good with the time off :)

Dare I mention that I've been mesmorized by the snow on the mountains surrounding Los Angeles  -  I seemingly have contracted what is known in these parts as "snow fever."  Must go . . . see snow. . . 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Intermediate? Maybe, but Burda Newbie

Hello Readers,

I guess everyone is preparing for the New Year - I've still had trouble finding time for sewing.  I changed my rating on Pattern Review to Intermediate, one step up from Advanced Beginner.    I'm now doubting that.  I've joined the Burda Pants Sew-Along from The Cupcake Goddess.  However, it has been an uphill slope:

First, what have I signed up for?

Second, I finally used highlighter to mark the pieces, but realized there is a pattern piece number 2 black, number 2 yellow, number 2 green. Oops.  Mine are pieces 1 - 5 black.  I then used a black sharpie (not the recommended method to show the correct pieces). 

This is a tall pattern, hurray!  Perfect, seemingly, for me.  And I plan to trace it out  -  any tips from anyone? I've never cut out a Burda.  According to the sew along - we're using 1" seam allowances generally and 5/8 SA for the crotch seam. . .  again, any tips are appreciated. . . 

Finally, I'm finishing up my second Vogue dress and I wanted to post what I did to alter the pattern for the lower bust (on princess seams). On my initial muslin - it appeared the bust point was too high by just over an inch.

I used the method from FFRP (Fit for Real People) - and it worked liked a charm.  Initially I tried to "cheat" and lengthen the shoulder seam (not good).   The FFRP method resulted in an accurate and precise bustline on the princess seamed bodice.

Here I cut out and moved down the bodice point. I lowered it the corresponding distance (just over 1") and drew in the new seamlines.

Accordingly, I did the same below on the corresponding piece.

What I don't show is that I actually had to alter the horizontal bustpoint to give more room from bust point to bust point.  I was wider by 2".   I don't have pictures to show that adjustment however, but I did so by adding to the center princess seam pieces and subtracting from the side center seam pieces.

I hope to post the dress before this Holiday is over!! But with the way things are going I give that prediction a 50/50...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all!  I am thankful for many blessings in my life, for all the talented home sewers blogging and for being able to write this blog.

I haven't been posting as I've been so busy (both traveling for work and at home) -  but I am gearing back up in January - I'm taking Kenneth King's Clone Your Favorite Garment class on Pattern Review (starting January 10) and I am doing a Burda Pants Sew-Along from The Cupcake Goddess.

By the way, I did buy a ham and sew roll from The Cupcake Goddess and they are so much fun - she actually wrapped them in old patterns for mailing.  Adorable (and the smell of newly cut sawdust is to die for).

By the way, I have to give a shout out to the productive sewing blogger -
Katie's Blog.  Her blog provides me with countless tips.  Check out her blog - I highly recommend it.

A few months ago I found what I thought was a Janome-sponsored blog that gave all kinds of tips (for example, home-sewn flowers for decoration on garments) - but I've lost the bookmark!  If anyone knows of this site - please let me know!  UPDATE 12/25:  I found it - it's Janome's Sew 4 Home website - the tattered flowers I was looking for can be found there - here's an example below - I'm going to make some of these and add to my Vogue Hawaiian Dress (if I can get off the couch today!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Naked Machines Finally Covered!

Dear Readers,

Despite the shocking title, I haven't finished my second version of my dress  - I was having trouble making choices.  Before I get to that - this is what I've been up to this Holiday.

Before:  Nude machines -

After:  Fully, and fashionable dressed (covered) machines - 

I used Simplicity 2679 (purchased for $1.00) at Joann's Fabric. 
I also measured the machines (the Singer Featherweight and the Serger) and tailored the patterns slightly.  The Janome (with the vespa fabric) sewing machine cover was one of my first projects 14 months ago.  In all three projects,  I used cording instead of binding to bind.  Wow!  The cording (or piping) foot on my serger was fantastic.  I love feet - I'm going to do a separate post on this.  I also have fallen in love with the serger - I love it and am glad I own it.  I never thought I would own a serger. 

I bought the two new fabrics above  -  they are Japanese fabric 30 percent off from Momen+ in Torrance -  on Black Friday.   You know I'm obsessed with Japanese Fabrics.

I also quickly sewed two doggie bed that are for their crates  - easy-peasy - measure, cut and sew.  I cut up an old down-alternative comforter (washable) for the insides. 

This is one of two:
And, again, the second in the same fabric (the robots mats were bought separately - we're all "robot-crazy" (also known as roboty) in our house).  

Finally, with regard to the Second Vogue 8667 dress - I think I'm going to use a separate fabric for the skirt (so that it's not a completely Hawaiian dress and may be worn more frequently).  I must give a shout out to Eugenia's Blog.  She sewed at least 2 -  two-tone dresses - and most recently did a gorgeous rendition of Vogue 8667.  I've decided to line the cotton top (instead of facing or bias binding) with a cotton voile and use a double knit for the skirt.  

Well, off to sew! Have a great week. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (US) & Happy progressing to the end the week (everyone one)

Dear readers,

If you've been progressing toward the end of the week (Congrats!) the weekend is almost here!

 In the US, we're celebrating Thanksgiving, where the desire to get the perfect turkey and meal, spending time with relatives you may or may not desire to see, and planning crazy shopping the day after.  And, some people chose to give thanks for their lives (we do!).

Yesterday, I went to the paragon of booksellers, and bought three sewing magazines.  One serves as an excellent reference and I learned a couple of  techniques.  The magazine is Teach yourself to Sew by Threads magazine.

Although I am familiar with most of the "getting started" techniques - I have learned a few things (and I'm only 1/3 of the way through).

For example, there are tools to help your presser foot stay level over thick seams!  And, the best way to get sharp points on a collar or tight angle is to make a box type of stitch during the seam instead of a point. . . I never had problems with that but good to know!  I recommend it as a fun reference with lots of good tips.

Finally, on my Kindle 3, thanks dad!, I downloaded Pat Conroy's My Reading Life (which is a love story to writers and readers, really).

He writes, "As an American liberal with impeccable credentials, I would like to say that Political Correctness is going to kill American liberalism if not fought to the death by people like me for the dangers it represents to free speech, to the exchange of ideas, to openheartedness, or the spirit of art itself.  Political correctness has stranglehold on academia, on feminism, and on the media. It is a form of both madness and maggotry, and has already silenced the voices of writers . . . across the land."

I find this so true, even on a minor level, like this sewing blog.  I won't address the larger first amendment issues in America, but I will say that I do write my blog in fear of offending others (not to be confused with tolerance, though).  I am careful to monitor the voice and tone of my blog - really, I want to promote and enjoy home sewing - and encourage others to try (and learn from the legion of experts out there).  I want my blog to be accessible.  And maybe, that is the way of it for writing that is trying to accomplish a goal such as this.   Readers, do you find your voices chilled by political correctness?

Just a few things to think about (and feel free to respond!) - Pat Conroy's book is an easy read if you haven't had the chance yet. . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank you Vogue Patterns!

Wow!  I need to buy a lotto ticket - stat!  First, I pass the bar (luckily) - then my father send me the new kindle (lucky, again!), and then wonderful Kathy Marrone comments to tell me that my last post is featured on the Vogue Patterns facebook page and that they like it very much. (Very shocking!)

I still feel pretty lucky - I consider myself to still be an advanced beginner.  Out of the blue!  If you are on facebook here is the LINK.  I wasn't aware of the FB page - and they post frequently - on a variety of sewing-related issues.  Their latest post indicates that they are giving away fabric (from their stash) on Mondays. 

Now, I feel dedicated to doing a better job on my Hawaiian dress - all part of my guilt at being mentioned and featured on their link.  Well, dare to dream, I say!

BTW, I think this counts for a few minutes of my fame quotient. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vogue 8667 (Finally!) and Celebratory Libations

Hello dear readers!

Finally, I've finished Vogue 8667, pictured below.  It's been quite the journey!

Finally, I might add.  I started this project at the same time as I was taking "Intro to Pattern-Making."  Which was brilliant.  I started out making the dress pattern initially with the bodice pictured here, in a Hawaiian Cotton Print.  
Several problems emerged, when I sewed two muslins to check the fit. 
First, the cotton has no drape for the collar piece.   And I actually didn't have enough fabric for the full skirt (of course!!).  So, based on Gertie's wonderful blogging, she gave me idea to use a double knit - a wonderfully soft fabric that I bought for 8.00 a yard from Michael Levine - I had more than enough fabric (the bolts were huge).   So, I put off the Hawaiian fabric (I am finishing this weekend). 

However, do you think I should face the Hawaiian bodice?  I am tempted to use bias binding (same color) but J. thinks that has a tendency to look homemade.   Your opinions are helpful. 
I also decided to initially not make the sleeves since the sleeve fitting was complex.   I have rather large biceps.  However, the double knit gave me some confidence so I made the sleeve alteration - based on the advice from the book, Fit for Real People.  

I have a 9" bust to bust point - which I increased by 1" from the pattern.  In addition, my bust points were 1" below overall the curve indicated by the pattern.  I will details these alterations later this weekend with pictures.  It was actually very hard for me to get a good fit with the princess seams, since my shape differed quite a bit from the pattern cut.   The double knit was quite forgiving, although since it was not exactly the same as the cotton muslins - I had several differences in the final result.  The bust should not have been altered horizontally, but the overall curve move worked out well.  

Even though I didn't need to - I handpicked the zipper, above,  (thanks Sewaholic (great tutorial)).  I also admired Gertie's and Susan Khalje's tutorials and lessons, respectively, which gave me the ideas to do this type of couture technique.  I finished the seams with my serger, even though with double knit one is not required to do - I think it looked more professional.  

I also added the bow at the waist to hide some wonky seams (I almost ordered a custom belt). If anyone has any ideas on how to sew very straight seams across the waist on a princess cut garment - please let me know your tips - I had big problems.  I am going to go back and reset the bow, to tell the truth - I hurried to finish this dress and have worn it three times since finishing it Wednesday evening.  

End result, I love it.  I have to finish the cotton Hawaiian version, but I am probably not going to use the full skirt.  I now have a skirt "block" from my Intro to Pattern-Making - and I'm going to use that to attach a straight skirt like the alternate view suggested in the pattern. 

Pattern review Here!.  This pattern took a ton of alterations, and initially, I thought the skirt would look wonky, but I rather like it.

On a personal note, I've been on pins and needles since Nov. 1 - but found out last night I passed the Cal. Bar on my first try! Hurray!   Now, I am going to nurse my headache from the celebratory libations!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hey Anthropologie!

Hey Anthro -

I think someone has been reading someone's blog.  Yes, dear readers, as shocking as that might sound to you it's true.  Do you remember my Colette Macaron dress made painstakingly with Japanese Echino fabric!

Ah Ha!

Anthro's fall catalog arrived today in the mail and, lo and behold, I think some company (with a name starting with A.) knocked off my dress. OK, I know it's not a direct copy - but I suppose they have knocked off the idea of doing a vintage type of dress with modern Japanese fabric (the idea of it:)) Sure, their fabric is silk and not cotton/linen . . . suspect, I tell you!  And the name of their dress - "Japonita!"  That nails it in my mind.

As I was knocked off (in my own mind) , I feel completely justified knocking off the offender's circle skirt pictured below:

I am in Class 2 of Intro to Pattern Making tomorrow!  I feel some cloning coming on . . . don't "they" say imitation is the greatest form of flattery?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Decades of Style Patterns

Dear Readers,

Whilst I was taking my class - I did have a chance to shop and here is my bounty - I can't wait to make these up:

Two Decades of Style patterns that I have been waiting to buy for awhile (apparently Decades of Style had a trunk show with all the designs sewn up that I missed two weeks ago (of course).

Decades of Style 1940s House Dress
Decades of Style 1940s New England Dress:

Also, I bought three yards of this cotton lawn, which does have some cross-stretch - it is NOT a liberty print - but does remind me of the type of prints Liberty is famous for.  I was thinking of making Vogue 8667 in this print but after trying on my muslin - I think I will save it for another project. 

I also got this thick canvas Japanese robot print to make a Green Pepper messenger bag for J.  Unfortunately, he doesn't think the material is substantial enough for his books (it is - especially if reinforced) But, hey, I'm not going to argue - so yeah!! I can use this somehow for a project of mine!

Dear readers, if you have sewn Decades of Style patterns - I would love to hear about it!  Tips are appreciated!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vogue 8667 - Vintage-Inspired Modern Dress

Hello Dear Readers,

I hope this first of November finds you all well.  As for me - as yesterday's post discussed - my sewing mojo is back - and NO travel for me this month:)

I have just completed a muslin for Vogue 8667 - a modern dress with a vintage twist.  I am making the sleeveless dress in beige on the model shown.

Pictured are the bodice and full muslins for this dress - and whew!  I have quite a few alterations to complete!  I also wanted to make the blue version shown above, but the sleeves would have taken two + alterations to fit my  rather full upper arm - so out they go!  Plus, I plan to wear this dress in Hawaii with some fabric I picked up my last work trip there - so sleeveless does make more sense.

I have completed the bodice muslin shown above.  My alterations (upon trying it on) are the bustpoints must be moved down 1" each.  This bodice has princess sleeves mind you.  In addition, I must widen the bust points one inch to the side for each.  I am also adding 1 inch to the bodice - to move my waist seam downward.  Finally, I am adding 1/4" on the seam allowance for the sides.

I haven't yet sewn princess seams, so I looked up and cross-referenced how to do so in Fit for Real People, by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto.  The authors give a detailed description on how to move the bust points for princess seams (the technique in short involved cutting and moving the pattern downward at the bust-point on the front pattern piece and side pattern pieces).  Although after thinking about this (and dreaming about it!)  -  I may try adding 1" to the shoulder seam if it doesn't throw out the proportion for the armholes.

I also reviewed the description on how to widen the sleeve for the upper arm, and although the technique is excellent - I think I prefer the description and additional technique for a small adjustment detailed in Fast Fit, Sandra Betzina.  Both technique call for cutting and widening the arm pattern pieces.
Finally, the skirt is done and I need to do a better job on the pleating.

After thinking about this - I plan to cut another bodice muslin and check the fit once more before cutting my fashion fabric.

Any tips on fitting (or sewing) princess seams are appreciated!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introduction to Pattern Making (Skirt)

Hello Readers!!  Happy Hallow's Eve:)

On Saturday, I finally took the first class in a series of 3 classes of Introduction to Pattern-Making.  I'm taking the class at Sew LA from owner, Shaerie.

The first three weeks are really, making a sloper for a skirt.  This sloper will function as a flat pattern that will "free me from the confines of commercial patterns."  And, will assist with fitting all future garments - Sounds Great!!

I haven't signed up for the bodice part, and now I  believe it's sold out! Oh Boo!  I may have to wait until next offering or procure private lessons.

Here's what I have learned from the class - I have measured myself completely incorrectly.  I measure myself as Waist 33", Hips 38" - when in reality my waist is 30" and hips 40" (I have been eating a bunch of chocolate:)).  Also, I've learned my hips are 9" from my waist - the standard measurement in commercial patterns - yeah!

We are using a Butterick 5746 (as shown below) basic skirt and working on our muslins now.  As soon as we are done I'll go on a skirt making binge - right now I'm on a dress-making binge (still).

Here's what I have learned about my sewing:

(1)  I am rushing literally everything - I need to slow down and take my time.

(2)  I really need to pay much more detailed attention to grainlines.

(3)  Ok, I do need to make muslins for the majority of my projects.  (As a result of my sewing mojo being jump-started by this class, I made a muslin for Vogue 8667, which I will explain in detail on tomorrow's blog!)

(4)  I really need to trace sewing lines instead of eyeballing them by hand (especially for high value projects).  Yes!  It does make a difference (and modifying these lines requires, dare I say it?, MATH!).

(5)  Ah, the wonders of the two inch clear ruler.  I really need to use my clear flexible ruler in everyday measurements - wow!  I've really been missing out.

(6)  I'm so glad I took that couture hand sewing class in preparation for this class - it's made hand-basting a breeze!

Summary - Great class so far and this is the first in person class I've taken where it was more than a beginning level garment sewing class.  This is an advanced class and everyone has experience garment making - I'm holding my own though - all my self-study, the couture hand-sewing class, and practice has definitely helped.  I have quite a bit to learn!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vogue Pattern Bounty

Dear readers,

After work today, I jumped on down to Joann Fabric for their 3.99 pattern sale (Vogue patterns only) going on.   I needed 2 yards of muslin since I am taking a very promising Introduction to Pattern-Making class on Saturday morning in that hipster enclave of Los Angeles, Silver Lake (where I do buy quite a bit of Japanese fabric).

Here is my bounty:

Vogue 8146:

I didn't mean to purchase this - I ran across this while browsing for missing patterns in the drawers (as usual!) - I found this by mistake - I love sheath dresses - and loved the jacket on this one. . .

Vogue 8333:

A Claire Shaeffer pattern that I love!  Since I saw Erika B make a wonderful Claire Shaeffer jacket - I couldn't wait to pick this up - I want to eventually put my newly acquired couture skills to work!

Vogue 8667:

A very easy vogue pattern that I saw favorable reviewed on PR - can't wait to sew this up - plus it favors my aesthetic of perhaps vintage, yet modern. . 

Vogue 1206:

I loved the sleeves and neckline on this dress - it looks pretty easy and I've seen positive reviews on PR and my bloglist - Jonathan loves the fabric shown on the model but I certainly cannot see myself in this print!

Vogue 8688:
I like the version on the right, in yellow! I can make this quickly - and I already love a few RTW cashmere sweaters I own in this design!  I really wanted a couple of different knit patterns to be honest but they were out of stock!

In a related note:  Have you seen the option on McCall's webpage for "Printable Patterns."  Has anyone tried this option and if so, what was the result?

I can't wait for tomorrow's class!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hand Couture Stitching Class

Hello Readers,

I've just completed my first sewing class online! Of all things, it was the couture methods involving handstitching - which, paradoxically I signed up for less than a mere week after acquiring my wonderful vintage serger.

Susan Khalje (Susan's Website), a wonderful couture designer, hosted the online class on Pattern Review - and guess what, I kinda really like hand stitching now.  It has a certain look, and when done well, is gorgeous.  And, I think, the most important aspect is the amount of control it gives you when stitching (zippers, lining, and gathering can be very easy!).

Here are some stitches that I really liked best:

The Prick Stitch (an easy variation of the back stitch) - here is my practice zipper (first try!):

The catch stitch (for adhering fabric have linings or lace)

The fell stitch (the go-to stitch for security). I have it pictured below attaching two lace pieces.  But in reality it is THE stitch used, for example, to put in linings by hand because of its strength.

We are also learning hand-overcasting, the slipstitch, the basting stitch, the backstitch, the blanket stitch, buttonhole stitch (using buttonhole twist thread), and the invisible hem stitch.  We also learned how and when to use beeswax!

There were some other techniques and stitches taught as well!  One that I didn't master was the thread chain.  This particular decorative stitch is used to attach the lining to the skirt or for belts, for example.

We also learned about threads and needles (size 9 sharps are best for hand-sewing; cotton, polyester, mix of cotton polyester or silk finish cotton threads are all used frequently (she recommends high quality imported threads, like Guterman or Mettler).

Unexpectedly fun class!

I also stated I was going to post on my serger class - I've since decided not too - I read over my post and it was too defensive and a bit snarky.  I wish this blog to be a positive sewing blog!

Hopefully, now I'll actually sew something:)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vogue 1197 Re-Do & 1st Serger Garment!

Hello Readers,
I've completed the Vogue 1197 tunic, pictured below (taking advantage of the evening light). . .

I made this garment twice (as I cut off the hem of this tunic 8" short on my first try last weekend!).   And let's not talk about the stripes lining up on the previous garment!  This was made with my vintage serger.

I wanted a garment that I could wear "jeggings" with - and this one was perfect.  I bought the fabric at Mood, a knit jersey - with much more stretch than the pattern called for.   For my second try, I made the tunic version in the smallest size - it had so much ease it was ridiculous! On the final garment I made the bust size 32, for example (and I am a RTW 38B-C).  

I love the garment - the first one was a disaster in many ways - I even got lost serging the raglan sleeves. 

 Wow - serging is EASY and FAST!  As you can see from the view below my serging is not quite right (no getting that fall bob haircut now!).  I lazily used the cowl from my first version (and because I didn't buy enough fabric at Mood for the second version - I know don't ask).  Normally I buy 2.5 yards not knowing what pattern I am going to do - but for some reason I thought I did this pattern with 2 years (60") - No, that was not enough.
I did a rolled hem on the sleeves and hem below.  I didn't use "wooley nylon" as the pattern called for it -  I don't know that I could find a wooley nylon in brown, to tell you the truth. . . 
The hem is measured around 25.5 inches from the floor - all the way around.
 I wore ballet flats for the picture, but these are my shoes of choice for this outfit.

This elastic below was my first try - some fold over lingerie elastic - it didn't work - you need an elastic with ALOT of stretch - so I ended up going with the 1/4" elastic the pattern suggested.

I'm fighting off a summer cold - but had to get the garment finished - it should have been finished last weekend!

Two other events:
(1) Took a learn to serge class - which was very helpful, and had some, let us say, interesting interactions (a later post which I have in draft); and,

(2)  I'm taking the Couture Hand Stitch class on Pattern Review!  I've bought the supplies but haven't done the assignments (yet!).

Pattern review is HERE.

Next sewing project, something "vintage-y."